FOOTBALL: Rochester inches closer to playoffs berth with win over Troy Athens |
BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — At the beginning of preseason football practice, James Ward was nowhere to be found in Rochester’s training camp.
Fighting through injury that lapsed into the spring and summer months, Ward didn’t even show up until midway through the second week of camp.
The Rochester senior has slowly carved his way back into the lineup and had his biggest game of the season Friday night.
Ward finished with 149 yards on a workhorse 27 carries to aid Rochester’s 24-15 OAA Red Division victory over the Red Hawks.
“I was slowly coming back from an injury,” smiled Ward. “But I am back now. I haven’t hit my full stride just yet. I just want to help us reach the playoffs.”
Simply put, Rochester finishes up with rivalry road games against Rochester Stoney Creek (Week 8) and Rochester Adams (Week 9) and needs just one win to reach the postseason for a second time in three years under coach Erik Vernon.
A pair of wins would give Rochester (5-2, 4-2) its first City Championship since 1996.
“That’s our goal,” noted Vernon. “Right now we need to get ready for Stoney Creek and rest will take of itself. We did what we had to do in order to win here tonight (against Athens).”
Rochester forced three turnovers and limited Athens to only 143 yards of total offense — 32 total yards in the first half. Shane and Shwan Shadaia each